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Tube vs. Solid State

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bdanster92, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. bdanster92


    Jan 14, 2008
    I'm getting fed up with the modern day solid state amps, and I've been really interested in buying a new all tube head. I would love to get a vintage Fender Bassman, but they go pretty quick on eBay and not too many stores in my area get them. I want to either get a very good solid state head, or a moderatly priced all tube head. Any suggestions?

  2. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    There's a Peavey Classic 400 in the Classifieds here. Major mojo.

    As for SS versus Tubes, it's possible to like each for its own qualities, but threads don't always reflect that ; }
  3. brothernewt

    brothernewt Some people call me the stormtrooper of love...

    Apr 13, 2004
    Happyrock, OR
  4. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    Even for an all-tube head, I wouldn't want a vintage anything. Tube heads are hassle enough without having to deal with something being decades old. There are several VERY nice all-tube heads on the market which can be had for better prices, and you'll get modern support and warranty coverage. All IMO.
  5. LarryO


    Apr 4, 2004
    forget tube vs solid state...you need to play as many amps as you can and adjust the eq on all of them, try them out with any cabs you have and or as many cabs as you can. No company makes a bad sounding amp they may just make amps that YOU don't prefer the tone of. Try as many as you can in your price range and buy the one you like. Just make sure you are comparing the amps on a level playing field.
  6. What is it about modern day solid state amps that has you fed up? As for all tube heads, I think the least expensive one is a Traynor yba200-2. $650.00 or there about. Next would be the new PV around $900.00. After those 2 the price gets real crazy. SS amps come in many different flavors too. The flavor of the month seems to be Markbass these days. Do some searches on Markbass, Thunderfunk, yba200, and so on. Then pick 2 or 3 that look like what you're after and play em.

    good luck.
  7. Stiv


    Oct 10, 2005
    Sacramento, CA
    I struggle with this constantly. I have two stacks. The first, and the one that I've toured with and played live for longer is a GenzBenz GBE1200/Aguilar GS412 stack. It's loud. It sounds good. It has a LOT of versatility. The other stack, however, is a '66 Bassman with two MusicMan 115RH cabs (each has a JBL 140). After all was said and done, I spent probably $2500 on the Genz/Ag stack, while the other, I scrounged around for a while to get. The Bassman head I got for $300, but then took it to my tech and put another $150-200 into getting it tip-top. The cabs I found used for about $350 together. I was worried that 50 watts wouldn't cut it, even if said watts were old Fender tube watts. What I've found, however, is that the stack sits in the mix so much more beautifully than anything I've ever experienced (not to mention it's the **** in the studio...). It's the perfect volume for rehearsing with a band (assuming you aren't playing Slayer, or something) and any show that it isn't loud enough on it's own for, I slap an AKG D112 on the bottom speaker and it sounds HUGE. I've played festivals, big clubs, small major venues, and I've never felt so cool in my life. Praise from everybody, especially my bandmates. Now I have $2500 worth of amp I used to love and use exclusively just sitting around in my apartment. Hope that this helps.
  8. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    How about an Alembic F-1X and a power amp?
  9. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I'm old enough to have started at a time when tube amps were all that was available. I switched to SS around 1971-72 because I wanted more volume and played nothing but SS until very recently. I've now gone full circle having recently acquired a Ampeg V4B and B15. The heads are heavy and that's a hassle but the sound is really so sweet. Since my band plays r&b/soul volume isn't a big deal and I plan to gig with both amps.

    I still have a Bassman 100 on my wish list.
  10. FWIW my 70's Bassman 100 hasn't had any problems in the five years I've owned it. The only maintenence it has required was a re-tubing. Vintage stuff doesn't give you more headaches in my opinion, it's built to last and if there ever is a problem they are easier to fix if you have a good tech. Point to point wiring and more room inside the head to work. However they are heavy...
  11. kirkm24


    Jan 1, 2007
    Columbus, Ohio
    I think solid state amps are the best they've ever been. I definitely think it is worth giving SS amps a fair chance. You might be pleasantly surprised. A lot of the tube hype is just that.. hype. There is an idea that an amp is junk unless it is tube.. this may be true in some cases but just because something is tube or SS doesn't mean it will sound bad or good.
  12. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I think Greybeard may have suggested it in his post, but more specifically hybrids may also be something you should look into. These multiple stage tube pre's (and a few with single) tied into well engineered ss power sections offer an awful lot of what all tube heads do without most of the deficits (ex. weight, power tube retubes, etc).

    Great hybrid offerings to look at from Eden, MarkBass, Mesa, Aguilar and Thunderfunk (not a complete list, probably others too).

    just sayin'

    good luck
  13. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Pretend the heads you try are welded shut and you don't know what's inside. You might be surprised to find that not all SS amps can be generalized into one category.
    Don't just try them in a store, get them on a gig or three.
  14. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    As I indicated above, the Bassman 100 is next on my wish list. Was wondering if you're gigging with it regular and what cabinet you use with it? If you're so inclined, the type of music, bass guitar, etc. would also be helpful information for me.

    In addition to my tube amps, I also own a GK 700 which is a terrific amp. So I would agree with those that say you should try a bunch of stuff and see what you like.
  15. dvh

    dvh Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2006
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Also Yorkville, XS400H and XS800H
  16. There is a definite difference in the sound and playabilty between SS amps and tube amps, you need to choose which you like better. The ultimate tube amp IMHO is the 70's Ampeg SVT heads which will last you forever with little maintainance if they are OK now and usually don't take a fortune to bring back to good condition if they've been abused and they can really be abused and still work. I would be more afraid of newer heads than older well made ones myself. 70's Ampegs were built like tanks, there are thousands of them in use today. I've been using them for 30+ years now, but have tried many SS heads at jams and have owned a few SS Ampegs. I don't think one or two preamp tubes makes a SS amp sound and play like a tube amp. In fact when I've used hybrids I've generally bypassed the tube preamps as they just made the amps a little less bright and responsive.
  17. whitespike


    Nov 28, 2007
    Austin, TX
    +1 for hybrids.

    BUT - there are good and bad SS amps, tube amps, and hybrid amps.

    Some hybrids I have tried sound no different than a run of the mill SS.

    Some SS amps sound better than some tube amps to me.

    Lastly, I have played some tube amps that I think sound like junk.

    It's really a case by case scenerio.

    While I normally prefer tubes, I have been happy with my WT400 hybrid as an alternative. To get the kind of power I want out of a tube head I would need something really heavy. My WT400, while it can't sound exactly like a tube head, gives me way more warmth/roundness to my sound than any SS amp that I've tried personally.
  18. wazzel


    Dec 27, 2007
    Houma, LA
    For a pre amp I would suggest the SWR intersteller (blue face if you can find one). I have one I have been playing on for a long time and like the tone. They will be used since SWR discontinued them.
  19. That's it right there. Neither are "better" than the other.

    Is it a matter of having "beginner" amps or not having the headroom to do what you want to do without clipping the amp?

    One thing I've always struggled with is the desire to use a tube amp- but get a SS type response. Even with all the headroom in the world, it's just not happening in the way I want to hear it.

    I've got a Mesa Bass 400+ sitting in the basement that just needs tubes and a bit of an overhaul- and I'm not in the least bit of a hurry to do it because I pretty much only use my SS heads anyway.
  20. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2005
    This sounds like a post from someone who has never owned a "vintage" tube head. :rollno: C'mon dude! There is no hassle with owning an old tube head. I have been all-tube for over 2 years now. Absolutely ZERO problems, and this includes playing outdoor gigs @ 95 degrees and gigs where we played for 5-6 hours. The one problem I have had was 2 years ago when a power tube flared up...on my NEW YBA-200. Zero problems with my used Sunn 300T (90's model), my used V4 (76 model) OR my used SVT (73 model).

    If your too cool to play old vintage gear thats fine. However, making a statement like that is rediculous. Like others have said, the vintage stuff was built to last forever. You dont need a warranty, just a good tech for a post-buy checkup.

    I wont get into the TONE or the resale value benefits.

    All IMO!